BY John Hickey 04:23PM 04/24/2011

Seattle offense just plain offensive

Mariners inability to hit with RISP costs them series against Oakland

Manager Eric Wedge watches his offense flounder again in 5-2 loss to Oakland. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

And the Mariners’ offensive shortcomings keep Seattle coming up short.

With starting pitcher Doug Fister giving the Mariners a chance to take three of four games from the Oakland A’s with a win Sunday, the Mariners hitters just never got on board in a 5-2 A’s win.

Seattle had eight chances with a man in scoring position to get a run home, and in all eight chances came up with nothing. In two of the cases – a grounder by Milton Bradley in the first and a grounder by Ryan Langerhans in the seventh – Seattle got a run home by hitting the ball so softly the Oakland defense could do nothing but watch the runner score from third.

What is needed is some robust hitting, however, and the Mariners don’t seem to store any of that in their arsenal.

It’s true that Oakland lefty Brett Anderson is one of the best young pitchers in the game. It’s equally true that the Mariners make almost everyone look like one of the best young (or old) pitchers in the game.

“These guys have got to find a way to fight through what they are going through mentally,’’ manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve got to get back to taking advantage of opportunities.’’

Sunday was the finale of a seven-game Safeco Field homestand for Seattle in which the Mariners went 3-4. They won the second game of the homestand against Detroit 13-3. In the other six games they scored 13 runs — total.

Take away the one game as a fluke – in truth it was, because in only one other of Seattle’s 23 games have the Mariners scored more than six runs – and Seattle hitters averaged just .221 and only 2.17 runs per games.

Worse yet, when you remove the 13-run game against the Tigers Tuesday, the Mariners went a composite 4-for-39 win men in scoring position in the other six games.

For a little perspective, that’s one fewer hit with men in scoring position in six games than the A’s had in Sunday’s game alone, and it was a relatively unremarkable game for the Oakland offense, which in the third inning got a leadoff triple from Coco Crisp and couldn’t get him home with Seattle starter Doug Fister bearing down.

“I give him a lot of credit,’’ catcher Miguel Olivo said of Fister performance. “He had good stuff. We just need to put some runs together.’’

They haven’t done it for Fister, having scored just 11 runs for him while he’s been in the game in his five starts. Six of the 11 runs scored on his behalf came in one game, which was – wait for it – the 13-run outburst against the Tigers on Tuesday.

“We’re putting runners on base,’’ third baseman Chone Figgins said. “We’re just not getting any hits (once there are runners on).’’

Until that changes, it’s hard to see the Mariners being anything more than the last-place team they have become.

To be clear, it’s not like the Mariners are hitting lights-out when there aren’t men in scoring position. Seattle’s team batting average fell two points to .226 with Sunday’s 6-for-33 performance, the worst team batting average in the American League. Couple that with the Mariners averaging only about one homer ever other game, and there’s not much to say for the offense.

Well, not much positive, anyway.

“It’s no secret what we have to do better,’’ Wedge said. His team is off Monday and will use the day to fly to Michigan for a series that starts Tuesday in Detroit. “What these guys have to do is not give in to the fight.’’

Tuesday will see the return to the lineup of the man who was, before he left the team with his father dying, the team’s most consistent hitter. Justin Smoak has been taken off the bereavement list and is expected to play Tuesday against the Tigers. The Mariners also are recalling pitcher Dan Cortes from Triple-A Tacoma.

To make room on the roster, Seattle announced after Sunday’s game that pitcher Josh Lueke and outfielder Carlos Peguero both are being optioned to Tacoma. Lueke has a 17.05 ERA after giving up three runs Saturday and Peguero had two hits and a .182 average in his brief time in the big leagues while filling Smoak’s spot on the roster.

Twitter: @JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • crumudgeon

    The SeaHawks showed the kind of improvement that only a home game could make possible.  Was it real improvement or just a typical home game against a relatively equal rival?  We won’t know until next week when a more talented team,the Atlanta Falcons comes to town.  This will be the true bench test of whether or not this team has made the kind of progress that separates them from expansion team status.  

  • Vsualyz

    Sex with the ex?  Come on…you couldn’t come up with a better analogy than that?  It’s a stretch at best, definitely not tasteful.  I get where you’re going, just thought your headline was terrible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1089627541 Tim Ferderer

    “the last refuge of the light-thinking fan” love that line. My greatest concern re: Jackson is that he has not been able to find either Miller or Williams, both of whom have proven their abilities as receivers. He needs to get comfortable throwing to them and looking for them right away if the offense is going to get on track.